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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Purple yam (Filipino ube) cake for the November SABH


The colour purple signals the middle of spring in Sydney. When jacarandas are in full bloom and every nook and corner is just alight with these purple beauties.  They’re gorgeous from afar and up close.  The downside is that these purple beauties don’t last long.  A few weeks after they bloom, they’re already down on the ground wilting away.   But never mind. Jacarandas are beautiful no matter what.

And so it goes without saying, my inspiration for this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by JJ from 84th and 3rd, is inspired by this Australian flora.  The colour purple.  And its timing that it is my mother’s fave colour, and the weekend of the SABH coincides with my mom’s birthday.  And even though she’s in the Philippines celebrating with my dad and other family members, we celebrated her birthday here too.  With a cake that’s her favourite colour.  Purple yam cake (or Ube cake in Filipino parlance).


Ube or purple yam is an indigenous Filipino root crop.  Alongside the sweet potato, cassava or tapioca, parsnip, turnip and taro, the purple yam is a favourite ingredient in many Filipino sweets.  These purple beauties are added made into cakes, cupcakes, puddings, rice cakes, tarts or pastries,  flavoured in jams and preserves, topped in coldtreats, ice cream and even shakes!  As a matter of fact, they are used in more sweets than savoury dishes.  Considering it is infact a vegetable makes it for the perfect “vegetable” showcase for my post. Check out Jun Blog's post about this special vegetable and why Filipinos love it! 

Just some of the many purple yam products from the Philippines

To make this cake is like making any cake that uses vegetables (such as beetroot or cauliflower), you’ll need to cook the purple yam, mash them and pass through a sieve to get the finer texture.  

L: Frozen grated purple yam and R: Powdered dehydrated purple yam

But since it’s just a few of us around here, I’m sharing you a cheat version.  Sssshhhh!   I’ve used dehydrated purple yam powder, which I simply rehydrated with water, simmering for 20 minutes.  You can also buy frozen grated purple yam from Filipino stores and select Asian shops across Sydney. There is also that hint of purple yam essence which you can add for that extra bit of flavour and colour.  Otherwise, you can just use any food colouring combining red and blue till you get the perfect hue.  Without the colouring, you’ll get a very light purple cake, but still keep the purple yam flavour. So either way, you can’t go wrong.

You don't  need this much!  Just one bottle will do. I always just tend to overreact when food shopping!

There are a lot of variations on this cake around Google, but I was most inspired by this version from allrecipes.com and Pinay in Texas Cooking Corner sans the macapuno (Coconut sports) filling and using Italian buttercream as filling and icing.  Just because I like meringue-based frostings!  This cake has seen many afternoon teas and desserts and birthdays in our home.    


To make this purple yam (ube) cake
 Print recipe here

7 egg yolks

125ml vegetable oil

125ml fresh milk

1 cup grated purple yam

20ml (1 bottle) purple yam essence

2 ¼ cups plain flour

3 teaspoon baking powder

1 ¾ cups caster sugar

7 egg whites

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 178*C.  Grease and line the bottom and sides of two round 20cm cake tins.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, half of the caster sugar and mix with a whisk.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, oil, milk, grated purple yam and purple yam essence. 
Add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon until they’re all combined (wet and dry combined). Set aside. 

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the egg whites and salt until frothy.  Add the remaining sugar and the cream of tartar and whip until you get stiff peaks. 

Gently fold the egg whites mixture into your purple batter until combined.  Fold gently to retain the aeration.  

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-45 minutes.  Do the skewer test.  It should come out clean.

Prepare your cooling rack lines with baking paper.  Immediately invert the cake pan onto the rack and leave to cool.

Once cooled, trim off tops and sides if necessary to get a uniform round shape.  Process the off cuts to make into crumbs.  Set aside.

To make the Italian buttercream, I used this recipe.


Place a paper doily on your cake tray and spread a tablespoon of frosting. This keeps the cake from moving around.  Place the first layer of cake on the doily.

Pipe the filling onto the cake using any kind of tip, or simply use a spatula and spread the filling evenly.

Place the second round cake on the filling and continue icing the cake sides and top.  

Using your hands, gently tap some of the crumbed off cuts on the sides of the cake.

Use remaining icing to decorate around the cake or the top.

There are other ways to make this cake.  You can use a rectangle cookie sheets with sides and make thinner cakes (cooking times will be less) and make a Swiss roll type of ube cake.  For the icing, you can use cream cheese frosting (sans the lemon) or a simple Creme Chantilly recipe (cream whipped with icing sugar and vanilla).  I believe any kind of white icing will work with this purple cake.

This lovely cake was showcased for dessert last weekend.  When the skies were blue, and the jacarandas in full view.  We had backyard barbeque with the family and some friends, ate and drank some, and listened to jazz and 80s music all afternoon.  Spring, weekends, barbeque, family, friends and cake.  What else could you ask for?


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